In a few weeks, members of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors will gather in Louisville, Kentucky for their first-ever conference. While the overall focus is on homosexuality, a pre-conference will deal with transgender issues specifically. But no trans people will actually be present — and the speakers will be required to state from the beginning that trans identities aren’t real.
The pre-conference, co-sponsored with the Council on Biblical Manhood
and Womanhood, is called “Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity.” Confusion being the key word:
All the speakers have agreed to a statement published last year that rejects “that a human being could possess a gender other than the one indicated by biological sex.”
“I think Christians need to be concerned about this because Christian care demands that we be able to help the people all around us who are struggling,” said Heath Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and assistant professor of biblical counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We’re in a culture where Christians are the only ones that can teach moral sanity in the midst of the moral craziness we’re in,” he added.
You’d think that at a conference about trans people, trans people would be in high demand to talk to Christians in the audience about morality, dignity, and basic human decency. Or perhaps if inviting a real-life trans person was too daunting for these evangelical organizations, they could bring in someone from a respectable medical or psychiatric group that backs up their claims.Oh, wait. There isn’t any.
The American Psychological Association has long validated the existence of trans people and affirmed that trans people face disproportionate levels of stigma. According to Clinton Anderson, director of the American Psychological Association’s office on LGBT concerns, mixing religion and science doesn’t bode well when it comes to understanding and accepting trans people.
People have the right to their religious beliefs, said Anderson, who had never heard of the biblical counselors group. But he added that he was concerned that the mix of worldviews between religion and science is one “we don’t feel works very well for people.”
“We want to be very careful to keep what psychology has to say from its knowledge distinct from what religion may have to say from its knowledge,” he said.
But in the spirit of “Christian care,” as Lambert called it, evangelical organizations are pressing their hands over their ears to block out the guidance of trained medical practitioners. In their minds, “Christian care” means shutting transgender people out, denying their existence, vilifying them when they aren’t around to defend themselves, and brainstorming ways to “cure” them.
This isn’t a conference; this is the active plotting of maltreatment that could have deadly consequences.
The worst part is that as horrifying as this is, it’s not surprising at all.